I have a feeling that this might be a reoccurring title... which is why I added the magnanimous colon to make this post specific. Since this is the novel writing month, my mind is wired with guilt for every minute I'm not writing something to add to the word count race. This isn't my first time writing a manuscript, but since the main structure of this one is not quite so linear, writing it is strange and wonderful, but mostly frustrating. Ah, yes. Sounds like I'm right on track.
So this past Monday I went to the Writers' Harvest, an amazing event that our department put together to help raise money and collect cans for Feeding America. I happily brought my cans, listening to them clank in a tinny, musical way. The sun had long set when we got there and the venue, Ella's Folk Art Cafe
, was alive and waiting. The building was two-stories, inviting and exotic with its artistic atmosphere and earth-tone colors. We all gathered around the first couple tables, taking in the colorful bar and metal sculptures; Ella's is usually closed on Mondays, so we felt special standing within its doors.
Photo Courtesy of Claire Stephens
Haha, here I am on the left, wearing what I call my "Sci-fi shirt." I fell in love with the teal stripes and the band of brass buttons along the collar. I think I gained a bit of money experience after manning the USF booth at the Other Words Conference, so I volunteered to sell the featured writers' books, tag teaming with fellow MFAer, Alan. With a full bar at my fingertips, I ordered a Diet Coke and got to work...
There are a ton of great readers, the four main ones being Ira Sukrungruang
, Jeffrey Thomson
, Rita Ciresi
, and Katie Riegel
. Three MFA students - Melissa Caroll
, Jaquira Diaz
, and Tristina Dickerson, were also featured and really knocked it out of the park. Sadly, I couldn't see any of them reading from my spot. As the books flew out of my hands, I simply enjoyed listening. The table was awfully comfortable and I rested my chin on my arms and was taken away by the soothing and humorous words floating over my head.
The night ended with hands sore from clapping. The night air was cool, but not cold, and I joined my grad friends in casual conversation. When I say casual, I mean what we all normally talk about - literature and writing. The topic was a heated debate about the literary cannon, among other things. My contribution was a few chuckles and nods and gasps as hands slammed the table and voices rose in good cheer and banter.
While it's always fun to talk about, I don't think we'll ever have an answer to the final, official cannon. The best thing about this is that all of us individually make connections with various authors. There's something cozy about this. You find an author buried somewhere on a shelf or in a pile and you are drawn in like all the magnets in the world are packed within the pages. It's as magical as examining the brush strokes of an old master's painting , more private than the discovery of a breathtaking band.
When we find those authors that mean the most to us, I like to imagine that tiny networks form and stretch over time and space that connect us. How many times (and I guess I'm asking mainly English majors) have you daydreamed about sitting across a table with your favorite writer or poet? What would you say? What would he or she say, for that matter?
I'm wearing a mudmask as I'm typing this. My quiet smiles make the clay on my cheeks crack. It's a good night for thinking.